Normally I don’t do Lent; that is to say, I don’t think I ever have before. The idea is a good one – at least, it could be. It is sortof a mini fast, but instead of giving up all food for days on end, you choose something that you know holds you back from being close to God, and you use the idea of collective abstaining as support to forego your own bad habits. Hopefully, Lent will help you develop better habits, and you will also use that time to get closer to God.
There must be some deep irony then, that even after Mardi Gras weekend, people use today to get full-on, pass-out drunk. Most of these people a) probably aren’t taking part in Lent, and b) aren’t giving up alcohol for Lent. Lent is about getting closer to God, and it has also become about general self-improvement. I would argue that the former implies the latter. Yet, for my Lent, I am setting goals that are in both camps. My goal is 4-fold -
1. No Fast Food – “Fast Food” for my purposes is defined as any Restaurant which contains a drive-through. The exception is Starbucks. It is not a Restaurant, but a coffeeshop. But. Sadly for me, many of my favorite Chinese places are drive-through, and so they are out. My goal is to save money and eat healthier food by preparing it at home.
2. No Chocolate – I don’t really see myself as a Chocoholic, but when I buy a bag of Reese’s Pieces or Peanut M&Ms, the bag is gone in 2 days. That’s a lot of excess junk I don’t need. I want to eat better snacks – fruits, vegetables, crackers (this can be a slippery slope as well). I heard drinking two glasses of water before snacking will curb the drive, and I’m going to try that.
3. Writing – No, I’m not giving up writing. I know of people who’ve given up movies for Lent or things like that, and I know it can be good to go on a fast from movies for a month or so (I’ve done it twice), but the point of Lent is to give up those things that keep you from God, not those things that bring you closer to him. For me, I might as well give up going to church, then. No, I am giving up NOT writing. I keep a journal, but I have been lax. It’s separate from my fiction and screenplays and separate from this blog. And I’ve neglected it a bit, and I want to change that pattern. At least 1 jounraled page a day is the goal. Mornings are a great time to do it. I’m writing this in the morning, in fact.
4. Prayer – I’m giving up making excuses for why I don’t pray as often as I need to. Many churches emphasize prayer, and I know why, but they do so in a way that makes it impersonal. Telling people to pray 10 or 15 minutes a day, or any time amount is wrong-headed. I need to just pray, and if it doesn’t take long, it doesn’t take long, and if it does, it does. Both #3 and #4 are designed to establish new, better habits for my mornings.